Addiction treatment works best when people are truly willing and ready to make a change. Ideally, everyone would find their way to rehab in this way. But the reality is that denial is an inherent part of addiction, and by the time we realize that we need this level of support, our lives feel very much out of our control. That’s why loved ones – family members, partners, and close friends – often play such an important role in getting people into treatment.
As a trusted member of your loved one’s support network, you’ve probably already been with them through their share of challenges. The good news is, you can have a positive influence on them by encouraging them to take steps in the right direction. You can help them look into options for their care. And you’ll likely play a part in helping them sort out the logistics of getting into detox (if necessary) and rehab.
We know it’s difficult to witness, and be affected by, a loved one’s addiction. And the truth is, you can’t do it all by yourself. That’s why professional addiction treatment exists. Programs like ours support your loved one through their stages of healing so they can finally address this complex, deeply seated problem in an effective way.
If you’re anxious about an upcoming conversation with your loved one, these tips may help you approach it with more confidence.
1. Research Treatment Options Beforehand
If you’re planning to suggest treatment to your loved one and they aren’t in the presence of mind to do their own research, it can help to have some options already on hand. Some factors to consider include:
· Your loved one’s personality and personal preferences: What kind of treatment approach will they likely resonate with?
· What kind of setting they prefer: Do they find nature healing or need access to outdoor activities? Do they require certain amenities?
· Their beliefs or spiritual framework: This can help you determine if a holistic, non-12-Step, 12-Step, faith-based or other approach would make the most sense for them.
· Types of therapies available: Does your loved one have experience with certain modalities? What were their outcomes like? Are they open to alternative treatment methods and willing to try something new, or do they prefer more conventional techniques?
You’ll also need to consider what level of care they need. Will they require detox? Do they need inpatient treatment, or is it appropriate for them to live at home while attending an outpatient treatment program? After completing treatment, what are their plans for aftercare? Does the rehab you’re considering offer continued counseling or support for the transition back home?
It’s completely understandable if you don’t have the answers to these questions right now. Rehab admissions staff are happy to provide a brief, over-the-phone assessment and answer your questions about the best course of action for your loved one.
At The Sanctuary, our admissions team is happy to connect your loved ones to the resources they need, even if that doesn’t mean treatment with us.
2. Come From a Place of Love
Addiction already involves so much shame. And the intense guilt people feel about their substance use often prevents them from reaching out for help. Furthermore, there’s a reason your loved one hasn’t been able to control their behavior. Addiction rewires brain chemistry, and quitting a substance you’re dependent on involves far more than just willpower. This is why so many people are unable to stop patterns even when they know they’re causing harm.
When you approach your loved one, try not to frame things in a blameful way. While you don’t need to enable their behaviors or pretend to feel a way you don’t, judgment doesn’t help.
3. Avoid Triggering Terms
Additionally, language based on harmful stereotyping can add to your loved one’s sense of shame. This includes terms like:
- Getting “clean”
People often assign moral judgments to addiction, assuming that those who misuse substances are intentionally selfish, lazy, etc. But as we previously discussed, addiction isn’t a choice.
Your loved one is not their addiction. They’re someone who is struggling with a problem. Do your best to use language that respects their feelings and acknowledges them as a full human being.
4. Educate Yourself on Addiction
Understanding how addiction works isn’t just beneficial for your loved one, it also helps you. Having the language to make sense of a problem can help it feel less personal. And when you realize this is an experience that many other people go through, it can also help you feel less alone. This is where seeking out resources is also helpful. Groups like Al Anon and Smart Recovery Family & Friends can provide tools for supporting your loved one and connect you with others who are doing the same.
5. Practice Active Listening
Most people listen while waiting for their chance to speak or planning what they’re going to say. This is a chance to genuinely connect with your loved one and better understand what they’re going through, so try to listen with an open mind and heart. You don’t have to agree with everything they say, but think of it as an opportunity to gather all the information you need to help them decide on their next steps.
Feeling threatened or judged causes people to shut down. If you want your loved one to be receptive to your ideas, they need to feel safe. Keep in mind that they may find it very difficult to divulge certain truths, and do your best to hold space without forcing your opinion.
6. Stick to the Facts
Many people with addictions lie, even to those closest to them. Even if they’re honest at heart, this is often the nature of leading a life in secrecy. While it may be tempting to go along with untrue stories or excuses to avoid conflict, the reality is that this sets an unhealthy tone. Recovery is about being honest with yourself, and this is a good time to model that behavior. There’s no need to be overly angry or confrontational – simply let the facts speak for themselves.
7. Take Care of Yourself
This work is emotionally involved. It will have an effect on you – and you need to take care of your wellbeing just as much as your loved one needs to take care of theirs.
To help calm your nervous system, prepare and center yourself beforehand. Do whatever normally makes you feel grounded and calm. This could mean doing a brief yoga session or guided meditation, talking to a trusted friend, or a number of taking slow, deep breaths. You can even take notes or journal out how you’d like the conversation to go, to organize your thoughts and clarify topics you’d like to cover. The more prepared you feel, the more peace of mind you’re likely to have. You can’t control how your loved one chooses to navigate this conversation, but you can control how you show up to it.
It’s also important to carve out some space for self-care afterwards. Don’t schedule this talk right before you need to go to work or handle an important task. You may want to go for a walk, move your body, or allow yourself some downtime for the rest of the day.
These conversations can be heavy and emotionally charged. You may be anxious about saying the perfect thing or approaching the situation in the right way. But the truth is, just by taking the time to do this, you’re demonstrating your love and concern.
8. Remember, This is Their Journey
Addiction and recovery are highly personal, and everyone’s path is unique to them. Your loved one may choose to go about healing in a different way than you would, and that’s okay. They have a right to choose their own road to recovery. That road may have ups and downs, but it’s not your responsibility to shield them from what happens. Just as in life, everything in this journey is a learning experience. And at the end of the day, if they show up and do the work that’s required, they’ll be all the better for it.
You Have Reason to Hope
At The Sanctuary, we regularly see clients who tried conventional forms of therapy for years – sometimes decades – before ending up at our campus.
Many people in our program struggle with treatment-resistant conditions. Some simply haven’t been able to make the transformation they’ve been aiming for, despite trying over and over again.
Our holistic healing program guides people on a powerful inward journey. And through this process, our clients often reach depths of themselves they never have before. Often, recurring patterns like addiction lie beneath our awareness. We may be aware of their effects on our lives, but still unable to make the changes we want to see. We need someone to help us access the parts of ourselves that need healing – especially when we can’t reach those places ourselves.
To learn more about how this healing journey can help your loved one find wholeness, contact our admissions team today.
He is the Founder, Administrator, Counselor at the Sanctuary at Sedona.
He has a BA in Political Science and is currently Senior teaching staff at Four Winds Society, an international school of energy medicine. His credentials also include being an Ordained Minister; a Certified Shamanic Breathwork® Facilitator; a Founding Member Society for Shamanic Practitioners; a Member of Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology; a Member of the National Institute for Holistic Addiction Studies. [email protected]